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NFL owners push back on NFLPA calls for natural grass fields

October 25, 2023
Photo: Pgiam/E+/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

According to a report from The Athletic, NFL owners have expressed that the artificial turf vs natural grass debate isn’t as simple as the NFL Players Association (NFLPA) makes it out to be.

The debate, which resurfaced following an injury to New York Jets’ quarterback Aaron Rodgers, has been at the center of comments from the NFLPA.

Lloyd Howell, executive director for the NFLPA, released a statement calling for all NFL games to be played on natural grass. Howell took office in June and wrote that during his short time in the role, the issue of artificial turf “has been near the top of the players’ list during my team visits and one I have raised with the NFL.”

In 2022, NFLPA president JC Tretter called for the immediate replacement of artificial turf. Tretter’s comments followed several injuries blamed on the turf at MetLife Stadium, home of the Jets and the same field where Rodgers sustained his injury.

In comments to The Athletic, Stephen Jones, Dallas Cowboys executive vice president, said he’s never given a thought to having natural grass at AT&T Stadium, a domed stadium.

“We don’t think we can have a quality natural grass in our stadium,” Jones told The Athletic. “If you’ve got indoor stadiums, it’s just very difficult if you don’t plan on the front end, like an Arizona did, to roll the grass in. And then sometimes they get criticized for the condition of the field because it doesn’t grow as well as if they were growing it full-time out there. There’s a lot of moving parts.”

According to Jones, Cowboys players ask to practice on grass during the week. But, he adds, a player has never asked him to switch the stadium turf to grass.

Unlike Jones, David Tepper, owner of the Carolina Panthers, has heard directly from players who have asked to switch back to grass. According to The Athletic, in 2021, Tepper switched the stadium from grass to turf because he landed a Major League Soccer expansion team and he wanted to host more concerts at Bank of America Stadium.

Click here for the full story from The Athletic.

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